Many employers have a significant number of employees working from home, and chat software is gaining in popularity. You see it everywhere, both inside organizations between employees, and externally on websites that those in leadership and HR visit asking for information. It makes everything a little easier. While it may seem like it’s all good, it is wise to take some precautions.
The content of the chats may be discoverable, meaning that if there is a legal dispute, these chats may matter to an employer in a way they didn’t before. There are 2 problems with discovery. First, it can be challenging to track down all the information. Second, there may be information you would prefer not to release.
Generally speaking, if you have internal chats, there is a lot of information there, and you do not want to have to sort through all of that for discovery requests. To protect yourself against this, you should have a clear policy that the information on these chat devices is informal in nature, and substantive business information is not to be discussed. Check to see that employees are following this policy and document that.
To protect yourself against providing information that you would not want others to see, be careful when you are going to list serves and chats where you are asking questions about HR matters. Do not ask questions that involve fact patterns that you are dealing with. Instead, ask more general questions. And if you need specific legal assistance, speak with an attorney so that you have attorney-client privilege. Employers Council attorneys are happy to talk to you about any workplace situation.